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Roughing it in style

Campgrounds offer amenities similar to resorts

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When they travel, Earl and Sandy Schafer avoid megacampgrounds and prefer smaller, simple sites. They live in their motorhome at Heritage RV Park off Wrightsboro Road. The Schafers plan to trade in their 266-square-foot motorhome for a much larger one.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
When they travel, Earl and Sandy Schafer avoid megacampgrounds and prefer smaller, simple sites. They live in their motorhome at Heritage RV Park off Wrightsboro Road. The Schafers plan to trade in their 266-square-foot motorhome for a much larger one.

Campfire, fishing, hiking – and no tent required. That’s the lure of elaborate campgrounds and traveling homes offering resortlike amenities with a hint of the great outdoors.

Claire and James Drew, of Martinez, travel several months of the year in a motorhome towing a car and a golf cart. Camping together for more than 30 years, their outdoor adventures started in a tent pitched in the woods.

Now, one of the Drews’ favorite spots is Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which offers pools, playgrounds, bicycle rentals, golf cart paths, mini golf and fishing lakes. “It’s more like a resort to me because of the ocean being there,” Claire said.

Campgrounds offering amenities similar to hotels have become more popular in recent years, especially with young families traveling with children, said Dana Gabriel, the president of the Carolinas Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Campsites have been repurposed with plush cabins equipped with bathrooms, a kitchen, cable and Internet.

“What you’re finding is less and less people roughing it,” Gabriel said. “Moms and grandmoms are looking for the same thing in a campground that they are in a resort.”

Many families want children to experience outdoor activities but have the option to stay connected to video games, cellphones and computers, she said. Pools, waterparks and splash pads are must-have items for many campers.

Earl and Sandy Schafer recently sold their Atlanta home and moved to Augusta, where they live in a 266-square-foot RV at Heritage RV Park off Wrightsboro Road.

The Schafers have watched the transformation of campgrounds and RVs since they started camping in 1970. They are looking to upgrade from their RV to a much larger motorhome.

“Campers were much smaller, more primitive,” Earl said. “Now, it’s more like living in the suburbs than camping.”

When the Schafers travel, they try to avoid the megacampgrounds and seek out the simple campgrounds reminiscent of yesteryear. Earl uses a laptop to stay connected to family and to keep up with finances but regrets the demise of camping as a retreat from the world.

“We don’t talk to our neighbors as much as we used to. That used to be the joy of camping. You would pull in, hook up and go outside and have a campfire,” he said.


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